A closer look at App Store in iOS 7

By , Jun 18, 2013

iOS 7 (App Store teaser)

Like all stock apps, the App Store on iOS 7 has been graced with a sprinkle of Jony Ive’s magic. Not only does the storefront looks a lot nicer now – gone is the dark-themed look in favor for sleek appearance with lots of white space for easier reading – the app is way smoother and nimbler than on iOS 6.

It also features several enhancements that will appeal to pretty much everyone, from parents and their kids to power users to the likes of Senator John McCain who will love not having to manually update apps on his iPhone. Here’s a quick look at all the changes in App Store on iOS 7…

The App Store in iOS 7 is all-white and flattened, which goes a long way toward enhancing your reading experience. The first thing immediately noticeable is just how quickly the storefront loads.

If you’re on iOS 6, you’re admittedly annoyed by the App Store’s painful sluggishness – it takes anywhere between a few seconds to half a minute between tapping the App Store icon on your Home screen and seeing store content.

Even browsing different store sections has been sped up tremendously, which all makes a big difference in day to day use. Next, app pages have been tweaked a little. App blurb is now prominently labeled at the top, under the App Store Notes section.

iOS 7 (App Store, app blurb)

In addition to the Details screen, there are also Reviews and Related sections, like before. Your Description, Information, Update History, Developer Info, Developer Website and Privacy Policy sections are at the bottom. Another striking improvement to the overall layout is a revamped screenshot gallery.

iOS 7 (App Store, screenshots)

Just tap on the screenshot preview of an app to enter a nice full screen gallery where you can quickly swipe through all of the screenshots.

Automatic updates

During the congressional grilling on tax evasion, Senator John McCain unexpectedly  asked Apple’s boss Tim Cook “Why do I keep on having to update all the apps on my iPhone”?

McCain is no doubt going to love iOS 7.

Unlike automatic app downloading in Android, iOS 7 gives you greater control over when the App Store will auto-update applications on your device. For starters, your device defaults to downloading app updates only when on Wi-Fi and connected to power so that it doesn’t waste your precious battery.

Per Apple’s iOS 7 Features web page:

iOS schedules updates during power-efficient times. Like when your device is on and connected to Wi-Fi. So your battery isn’t drained unnecessarily

If enabled in Settings > iTunes & App Stores, the App Store can download updates using cellular data. Here you can also enable or disable automatic downloads for your Music, Apps, Books and Updates (iOS firmware).

iOS 7 (Settings, iTunes and App Stores, Automatic Downloads 001)

Unless absolutely necessary, users should disable this feature at all cost. Even though Apple delivers delta app updates in order to conserve bandwidth, don’t forget that cellular downloads count against your monthly allowance. This is of concern to everyone as most carriers have by now switched subscribers to metered plans and throttle their data.

Even with cellular downloads enabled, the App Store won’t actually install your updates in the background unless connected to power – again, conserving your battery and providing a better user experience. Pending updates will sit under the Updates tab in the App Store storefront. Just hit the Update All button to apply them.

iOS 7 (App Store, pending Updates 001)

When connected to power, your device will automatically install pending updates in the background. This is quite seamless and handy for average users who will be always running the latest and greatest version without any intervention on their part.

Powers users are a different story.

Updates to some apps introduce new issues, sometimes even removing features. A good example is MCTube Pro, an awesome YouTube client that in a recent update has removed caching ability at the request of Google.

MCTube Pro removes YouTube caching

I wanted to retain caching capability so I haven’t updated MCTube Pro. But not everyone pays attention to fine print in changelogs and release notes. Therefore, if you want complete control over automatic app updates on your iOS 7 device, your best bet is to disable the feature altogether.

Kids section

In order to appease to parents, Apple has added a brand new Kids section to the App Store on iOS 7. As the name implies, this is where Apple-curated applications for children can be found.

iOS 7 (App Store, Kids 001)

Sortable by age, the Kids section makes it easy for parents to discover new games and applications for their children.

Apps Near Me

Another great App Store improvement in iOS 7 is a new location-based app discovery option aptly named Apps Near Me. After hitting the Near Me tab and approving access to your location, the App Store will list all popular apps nearby.

iOS 7 (App Store, Apps Near Me 002)

The basic premise is to give folks recommendations for different apps based on either their location, or what local events they’re attending like a sports game or a music concert. It would appear Apps Near Me hasn’t been enabled yet as tapping the tab produced a message saying “There are no apps for your current location”.

iOS 7 (App Store, Apps Near Me 001)

We don’t know whether Apps Near Me stems from Apple’s acquisition of app discovery engine Chomp, but this feature is bound to get huge as it facilitates easy discovery of the apps you might be interested in, related to your local market.

Wish List

Also new in iOS 7: you can now add apps to a Wish List. To access the feature, hit the Share button on an app page in the App Store and choose Add to Wish List

Like before, the Share menu also includes options for gifting apps (a feature briefly pulled from iOS 6), copying the direct link, or sharing the app’s iTunes URL via Twitter, Facebook, Mail or Messages.

As depicted below, you can only add paid downloads to your Wish List, not free ones.

iOS 7 (App Store, Wish List 001)iOS 7 (App Store, Wish List 002)

Apple’s thinking behind making the distinction between paid and free is eyebrow-raising, to put it mildly. I’m also curious as to how Wish List will work with paid apps that have temporarily gone free. A dedicated button in the top right allows for a one-tap access to Wish List anywhere in the App Store. Here, you can check out all the software you’ve added to the list over time.

iOS 7 (App Store, Wish List 003)

As you could imagine, tapping the Edit button enters a multiple selection mode so you can remove multiple apps from your Wish List in one go. Swipe to the let to pull an app off your Wish List. What I’d love to see implemented is the ability to rearrange Wish List entries and organize these things into custom categories, such as Wish List for games, photography apps and so forth.

iOS 7 (App Store, Wish List 004)

A nice touch: buying an app that’s on your Wish List automatically removes it from here. Man, Apple does think of everything, no?

No matter how you look at it, Wish List is a clever move on Apple’s part.

The company is obviously betting on folks re-visiting their Wish List and buying those app they’ve been lusting after. And because it’s tied to your Apple ID account, your Wish List instantly refreshes on all iDevices.

Quite handy.

Redeem iTunes cards using your iCamera

This is another easily overlooked addition to the App Store on iOS 7.

Just like the Mac App Store, the App Store on iOS 7 devices lets you redeem iTunes Gift Cards by scanning the code with your device’s camera. As I explained last week, this little nugget is available upon hitting the Redeem button at the bottom of the Features section.

iOS 7 (Redeem iTunes card 001)

iTunes card scanning requires “a gift card with a box around the code,” the prompt cautions. iTunes gift card scanning doesn’t seem to work with the front-camera. Also, tap-to-focus appears to be disabledso you’ll have to bring your card close enough.

This feature taps Apple’s new API that allows developers to enhance their apps with the ability to “scan and recognize barcodes with the camera”.

Backend updates

In addition to App Store changes dependant on core iOS 7 features, Apple is continuously making backend server tweaks to improve layout. For example, the App Store on iPads running iOS 6 has recently added a brand new lefthand bar which makes it easy to sort your Purchased apps alphabetically.

iPad App Store (search 001)

In addition to browsing your Purchased items alphabetically, you can also zero in on a specific app by using the search field that was actually added back in October 2011 when iOS 6 launched for public consumption.

Summing up

Overall, I love the plumbing work on the App Store in iOS 7.

Snappy performance is bound to strike chord with everyone and some features will be appealing to certain types of users, like the Kids section for parents. And with Wish List and Apps Near Me, Apple is adamant about making the app discovery process easier.

During the WWDC keynote, Apple said it paid out ten billions dollars to developers thus far, solidifying the App Store’s lead as the most vibrant and lucrative app platform on the planet. And with three times the revenue of Android and every other mobile platform, it is clear that Android – despite its market share advantage – doesn’t play on the same level as Apple’s App Store.

WWDC 2013 keynote (App Store reevenue by platform)

By the way, the App Store is turning five next month.

Between flattened UI and a bunch of new APIs, iOS 7 will breathe new life into third-party apps as developers infuse their warez with clarity, iOS 7 look and feel and new capabilities such as AirDrop wireless sharing, native sharing to Flickr and Vimeo (and possibly LinkedIn) and more.

Apple is slated to release iOS 7 this Fall.

If history is anything to go by, the firmware update will hit Apple’s servers a few days before the next iPhone lands on store shelves.

As always, some iOS 7 features are hardware dependant and may not work on all devices – see our iOS 7 compatibility list.

iOS 7 (App Store teaser 002)

You may also want to take a look at my walkthrough of Messages in iOS 7, check out a list of the supposedly “missing” iOS 7 features and read Oliver’s excellent advisory of sorts on pre-release software titled “Calm down, it’s only a beta”.

So, did I miss anything?

What other features would you like to see in App Store on iOS 7?

Please, do join the discussion down in the comments.

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  • Cameron Nelms

    I hate the old top charts UI, I think I only hate it because when I got an iPhone/Pod it was really slow to scroll through

    • Grande PHD

      Now, top chart shows up to 300 apps instead of the current 100 apps on iOS 6.

      • Cameron Nelms

        Well I like that.

  • Indian Food

    Near Me is an absolutely pointless feature.

    • mehrab

      ITS NOT ITS nice when your traveling or you go to places for e.g when your inside starbucks

      • Indian Food

        How? I don’t need a Near Me feature in order to download the application – I search for it.

      • mehrab

        Omg how dumb can you be? It recommends you apps based on your location

      • Indian Food

        You can just search the city you’re in IN the app store search. Pointless. Lame.

      • mehrab

        You made no sense whatsoever

      • Indian Food

        You know how you can “search” for in app? Instead of typing the app name, type in the city you’re in. Same shit.

      • mehrab

        You just dont get it so shut up.

      • Indian Food

        Have fun using a lame feature that realistically no one will use.

      • RarestName

        My country only has one city.

      • Abhinav Chaudhary

        omg you just made my day

      • Abhinav Chaudhary

        hahaha, lol

    • Maxim∑

      more useful than “genius”…

  • Willie

    The new kids section is a joke

    • mehrab

      why? do explain.

  • Razick Rilshad

    Like the wish list

  • Victor

    Hopefully this will feel better in person as the Beta progresses

  • Adil Hussain

    Aww, things like this really makes me want to update to iOS 7 when it releases, but im guessin the bad things will outweigh the good on the final release tbh. I still wont be able to get used to this new look

  • Gorgonphone

    please make some of the colors deeper to increase contrast which will give more definition to the sections vs status areas. etc

  • queen_ir3ne

    The wish list needs notifications for when an app drops in price.

    • mehrab

      1ppppppllluuussssssssssssss

    • Mohammed Sahib

      That’s what appshopper is for. Great feature actually.

      • queen_ir3ne

        I use that in fact, but it never hurts to have a 3rd party feature like that native to the OS.

      • Jackson Grong

        It would destroy the App Store earnings because people would not buy the apps until they’re on sale or free…

      • kevinstallone

        That has defiantly put valve out of business because they send you emails when a wishlist item is on sale.

    • http://www.idownloadblog.com/author/dujkan Christian Zibreg

      That would be actually awesome…

    • Jackson Grong

      I’m doing this with appsfire, it works great and when an app you select is on sale It will immediately send a notification!

    • iBanks

      I agree… But if that’s you in the avi…. My goodness!

      • queen_ir3ne

        Um, yup. It’s me o_o

      • iBanks

        Beautiful!

  • Aaron de Silva

    They need to add back the feature where previously purchased apps download without the need of typing the password again.

    • Mohammed Sahib

      Yes, I noticed that this has gone MIA in beta1. Hopefully it will come back in future releases.

  • Alan

    I still have spots left under my developer account for
    anyone who would like to be registered to install the iOS7 betas! I only as for a small donation. Message me at nalakrub1 at Google if
    interested.

  • Alan

    nalakrub1 at Google if anyone needs to register your UDIDs!

  • Abhimanyu Sirothia

    What does the search page look like? In the current Store I don’t like the fact that I can’t tap on the status bar and jump back to the first search result. Has that changed?

  • http://facebook.com/lodigabriel Gabriel Lodi

    Can I disable the automatic app updates?
    For dummies, it’s cool, but not for me.

  • notewar

    I I want the old ios 5 AppStore back!!!

  • Grande PHD

    They need to add back the feature to hide purchases. I miss that a lot.

  • Yves CdP

    Hi !
    Want iOS 7 legally ? Need a UDID registration?
    ios7udid2013@gmail.com
    Thanks

  • Songsak

    How can we identify which app is universal app on iOS7 App Store?

  • Songsak

    How can we identify which app is universal app on iOS7 App Store?

  • iapplestuffs

    hey guys !! if you want to use IOS 7 beta ** then, register your UDID to get activated in ios 7 legitimately !

    I am registering UDID to Apple Developer account for $15USD each device for IOS 7 BETA. Once your UDID is registered then you can update to ios 7 beta without any problem and your iphone will be activated. You will enjoy full features of IOS 7 beta.If your interested then inbox me or you can email me to (iapplestuffs@gmail.com). Thanks……..

  • Benchmark Apps

    Ugg it sucks being 14, not having a credit card to get betas… -.-

  • Ryan Tittle

    In iOS 7 the app store in Purchases Can you swipe to hide/delete purchases? In iOS 5 you could till the iOS 6 update. Also you can in itunes

  • Morad Sabbah

    i have ios 7 and the app sore doesn’t install apps !!!

  • Maha Ali

    How can i delete purchased app history on ios7 app store?

  • Maha Ali

    Plus the only thing i really hate about ios 7 is that damn DARK shade of green in message app. Please change that message bubble color!

  • Linda Ellery

    How do I close my apps I have had opened?

  • Out5poken

    The changes in iOS 7 AppStore is nice however i have a couple gripes…
    1. Why can’t we sort Appstore user reviews by critical/negatives?
    2. Why can’t we save free apps in the wishlist? Sometimes I’m not 100% sure i want to use up valuable storage on my device with certain FREE apps! So a way to bookmark apps would be great.
    3. This is a minor, but i still think some tweaking needs to be done to the GUI as the store front scrolling banner shows images and fonts that are often squashed or stretched to fit!

  • jusSayin

    this is crap…I can only see 25 search results in that new confusing search bar at the top. I tried to search for the “digital-tutors” and it just wont show up now. With my ipad and ios6…no problem what so ever.

    I’m pretty quick to hate on things over the internet, but honestly ios7 is kinda junk….looks like a step backward visually and far more confusing on things like the calendar. Apple is dying faster and faster everyday.